Zachary Petrizzo, a writer for the pro-life media organization Live Action, says he was forced to resign after he tweeted about right-wing activist Laura Loomer “verbally tormenting” CNN reporter Oliver Darcy in the media room at this month’s Conservative Political Action Conference — an incident that led to the revocation of her press credentials.
The 20-year-old reporter, who worked as a paid intern for the organization for about a month, also received legal threats directly from Loomer over his tweeted account of the incident between Loomer and Darcy, which he later took down.
Petrizzo said his bosses at Live Action were pressured by Loomer into cutting him loose, adding that it all went down in a March 7 phone call with Live Action spokeswoman Alison Centofante and company Chief Operating Officer Josef Lipp.
“In a phone call with Live Action, both Alison, Josef and I spoke about the allegations made against me from Ms. Loomer. The parties agreed to allow for my resignation,” he told TheWrap. “Live Action clearly caved to the demands of a far-right radical, Ms. Loomer, and did not encourage me to work through the allegations or dismiss them as what they are, frivolous and false.” He was out the same day.
While on the call, Petrizzo said Lipp urged him to apologize to Loomer while Centofante offered her “thoughts and prayers” to him. After Petrizzo told them of the legal threats leveled against him by Loomer, he was told the issue was not their problem and that he was on his own.
Lipp, Centofante and Live Action founder and president Lila Rose did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Yes, I did threaten legal action against him because he’s a punk who ought to learn a hard lesson,” Loomer told TheWrap. She denied that she had actively engaged in a campaign to get Petrizzo fired but did say she took the matter up privately with Rose over Instagram messenger. She said the two are old friends; both had previously collaborated with James O’Keefe, the right-wing provocateur who has gained notoriety for releasing selectively edited recordings of undercover encounters with prominent liberals.
“You can’t go around using the byline of an organization you’re supposed to represent that isn’t your org, and use it to harass people and post lies about people who are allies of that org,” Loomer said. “Lila and I follow each other on Instagram. I never asked her to fire him when I contacted her. I simply informed her of his behavior and showed her screenshots because I have a lot of respect for her and Live Action.”
The imbroglio which led to Petrizzo’s ouster began on March 1 at the 2019 CPAC at National Harbour, Maryland, when Loomer stormed into the media filing center in pursuit of Darcy — peppering him with pointed questions about his past reporting.
Petrizzo, a sophomore at George Mason University and eyewitness to the event, documented highlights on his Twitter account. “Loomer began verbally tormenting @Oliverdarcy and it was out of line. We must treat others with dignity and respect. @MollyJongFast and others stepped in because of the ruckus and nonsense. Reporters should be reporting on the event, not disturbing others in the media area,” Petrizzo said in a now-deleted tweet.
“She is a complete fraud,” he added in another deleted tweet.
Though Loomer was banned from Twitter last November, Petrizzo’s tweets did not escape her notice. Shortly after they were posted, she sent Petrizzo an email threatening legal action, singling out his contention that she was a “fraud” and warned of potential consequences for Live Action as well.
I noticed you accused me of fraud on social media. As you know, or maybe you don’t know because you don’t look too smart to me, that’s called defamation. Unless you are able to prove that I have committed fraud, I will be having my attorney send you a letter and I’ll be filing suit against you on behalf of myself and Illoominate Media for defamation.
I am also in contact with your employer at Live Action and will make sure they are aware of your lies and defamatory remarks you published about me while using their name in your bio on twitter.
I’m sure Live Action donors, many of whom I personally am friends with, would not be too fond of your recent defamatory remarks about me on social media.
They would surely agree that there is a great liability in employing someone as reckless as yourself. I know I wouldn’t want someone who worked for me going around accusing accomplished journalists of committing fraud without any justification.
If you’d be so kind, please let me know where my attorney can send you a letter.
In addition to her criticism of his tweets about her, Petrizzo said, Loomer also accused him of being involved with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights organization for Muslim Americans that Loomer called a “terrorist organization.”
The basis for this charge appears to be a single retweet by Petrizzo of Imraan Siddiqi, the executive director of CAIR Arizona. Siddiqi does not list his work affiliation in his Twitter bio and Petrizzo said he was unaware of Siddiqi’s work with CAIR at the time.
Nonetheless, Loomer cited the retweet in an Instagram story on which she tagged Live Action founder and president Lila Rose. “It looks like you have an infiltrator,” she said. “He retweets CAIR and defends radical leftists. Not a good look.”
A rep for CAIR told TheWrap that his organization had no record of any affiliation with Petrizzo.